Microneedling: Beware, It Can Seriously Mess With Your Skin

Dangers of Dermarollers: Microneedling Beware


Microneedling punctures your skin and undermines the protective barrier, causing sudden changes in the structure of your skin that it then has to repair.

Lately, it seems that everyone is turning to microneedling, and who can blame them? Just look online, and it is apparently the answer to all of your skin related woes – and the hottest trend in beauty right now.

Scare-mongering is not what this article is about – nor my philosophy, but as with all things in life, there are risks associated with this treatment.

I have been inundated with emails from readers which you can read below, and many clients have been referred to me, who have been both physically and psychologically scarred as a result of this treatment, so I really wanted to address this treatment, for those who are considering it.

The Misconceptions

They Say: Microneedling is a collagen-stimulating treatment that uses needles to injure the skin; this stimulates collagen and elastin production, resulting in improved skin texture, pores, fine lines, and more.

Naked Chemist Truth: Microneedling tears through the epidermis – the top layer of the skin – creating tiny puncture marks which play havoc with your skin’s natural defence mechanisms, which have to work hard to repair these tiny micro-tears through collagen induction. This causes a whole host of skin conditions.
It does not tighten your skin; it swells your skin: You must understand the concept, ‘needling promotes skin collagen’. Because you’re temporarily injuring your skin, the tightening effect is plump, swollen skin.
It does not create a glowing complexion: That ‘lit-from-within’ glow is a result of the inflammation it triggers, and as I believe inflammation is at the source of  premature ageing, it is a big no-no in my book.

This is a serious procedure

At any depth, even a 0.2mm puncture can cause inflammatory responses that lead to problems. Not only that, but you are effectively injecting active serums at a depth where serums are not meant to go! Not everyone should needle, as you can cause irreparable harm.

Bottom line: If your skin is impaired, it requires a super-healthy skin response, and if your skin is stressed at all, you are almost certainly at risk of damage.


Clemmy from London wrote: “The microneedling felt like it shredded my skin beneath the surface, my once perfect skin is ruined and I feel like I could cry, it has lost all firmness and support. I know it has been structurally damaged. I’ve had such a bad reaction it flared up. It was awful. I looked grazed all over I didn’t want to leave the house for ages after 6 months it is only just recovering.”

Nancy from Australia wrote: “The next photo is the day of the microneedling, you can see my face is very swollen and I have scratch like marks on my face, I was shaking during the procedure, I should have known something was wrong then. I was told to do a course of peels to get rid of the lines and this sent my skin into inflammation mode. Today my skin has tiny holes and lines in it. With your help it has been slowly repairing, but it has been a long road.”

Quick side note: For this reason, I recommend avoiding peels, lasers, or active topicals to try to reverse the damage done. Instead, work to rebuild the barrier and balance the delicate micro-flora with skin-identical ingredients that are missing, bringing your skins pH back into balance holistically, which equates to healthy skin.

Angela, a client, experienced the following: “I am 43 and had one session of microneedling. My face became inflamed and I have been battling severe facial burning ever since. My previously smooth skin is scarred all over with lines, huge pores and a strange texture. I have been to a few dermatologists who have no idea what to do, it severely damaged my lipid barrier. Your advice and skincare especially Fortify barrier repair cream, is helping to rebuild my barrier I can’t thank you enough.”

Marian from the USA wrote: “Micro rolling seriously destroyed my skin. It left bumps and holes and requires total resurfacing, which I am scared to have. It has dried out my skin and given me lines I did not previously have, on top of the bumps and holes. In short, microneedling is UNSAFE.”

Jen from Australia wrote: “After having numerous tests (had to go back to the hospital a second time because they didn’t take enough blood the first time) the blood test results were normal so no autoimmune disorders which is good. I have had 25 pages of blood test results as my dermatologist was very thorough and he has figured out what the microneedling has done to my skin. He believes I have solid facial edema, very rare. I’m now on roaccutane & may need to be on it for 1-2 years, although my skin is responding this will be a very long battle to get rid of this. I’m completely shattered. I would NEVER recommend microneedling to anyone, in fact I warn all my friends about it so they never suffer the way I am suffering. Your Bio lipid has been a life saver I refer to it as liquid gold.”

For those of you who commented, thank you for sharing and I really hope together we can rebuild the health of your skin through a well thought-out skincare and supplementation regime. Hopefully, this article will also help others who are contemplating this procedure.

If you are unfortunate enough to have suffered a serious reaction, let’s take a look at the problems that can go wrong and why. That way, you will be able to connect the dots about what you can do to repair your skin.

Do not treat your skin with microneedling if you have the following, ever!

  • Sunburn
  • Diabetes
  • Active acne
  • Keloid scarring
  • A cigarette smoker
  • Prior Roaccutane user
  • Signs of active infection
  • Sensitive or impaired skin
  • Eczema or dermatitis sufferers
  • Very dark or unstable skin type
  • You are a 1, 2, or 3 on the Fitzpatrick scale
  • Autoimmune problems of the skin, such as Lupus
  • If you have had a topical treatment (such as peels or laser) in the last 12 weeks

In a nutshell, anything that will affect your skin’s natural healing ability.

You should absolutely NEVER have this treatment on skin that has breakouts or is irritated or inflamed, or has active acne or eczema.

Why? You could spread bacteria around your face and increase your risk of serious infection. In fact, if you have active acne or cystic acne, I don’t recommend microneedling until your acne is 100% clear. Even if you have a pimple, be sure to avoid that area completely.

If you have sensitive skin that can become red or flushed, if you suffer from rosacea, or if your skin doesn’t tolerate products well, then you need to be very careful. This treatment causes inflammation on the skin, disrupting the protective barrier and increasing penetration of active ingredients. I appreciate this may sound counter-intuitive, because microneedling is all about better product penetration, but when active ingredients go deeper into skin, the risk of irritation goes up. If, after reading this, you still want to experiment with microneedling, you should carry out a patch test (discussed in my article, “Microneedling Treatment”)

Side Effects, Contraindications, and Complications

Whilst there are many general side effects of microneedling – including bleeding, slight bruising, redness, dryness, and skin flakiness – some may experience more severe side effects:

  • Infection
  • Swollen face
  • Impaired barrier
  • Sensitivity to heat
  • Permanent scarring
  • Indentations in the skin
  • Sensitivity to topical products
  • Rashes, inflammation, or hives
  • Skin that becomes dry, tight, or inelastic
  • Hyper and Hypo-pigmentary changes in the skin

Infection: It doesn’t always look the way you think, such as with swelling, pus, and redness. Some infections can appear a lot more subtle, where the skin just stays irritated and doesn’t heal. What is happening here is that your body’s immune system is holding the offending bacteria, fungus, or virus in partial check, but isn’t strong enough to eliminate it.
Allergic or irritant reactions: These can range from barely visible to extreme ongoing pain and itching. This is not normal; pain associated with this treatment should be temporary and last no longer than a day.
Redness and texture changes: These changes are common, as treatment pumps the skin, increasing blood flow and collagen, but should reduce in a few days.

Treatment for impaired skin

A big question I’m often asked is, will my skin ever return to normal? You can heal your skin once it has been damaged by micronneedling, but how long it takes depends on the amount of damage done. From experience in my own clinic, some people may heal in between 6 to 12 weeks in line with cellular turnover. Sadly, for others, it can take a couple of years – but with the correct treatment protocol and effective ingredients, it is achievable.

You require a three-pronged, holistic approach.
Employ a consistent skin care regime with gentle topical’s that are barrier repairing – nothing too active, as that will inflame the skin further.

Use topical actives such as H2O Hyaluronic Acid combined with Urea to help re-hydrate the skin’s tissues. A low-strength Vitamin C will help to rebuild collagen and elastin naturally. DNA contains copper peptides that help to rebuild fragile skin. Bio-lipid and Fortify are specifically designed to rebuild the barrier function and replenish skin-identical ingredients that are missing as a result of harsh treatments.

Your skin is the largest organ of the body, so make sure you’re feeding it repairing foods, including vitamins and minerals such as Vitamin C, B complexes, Zinc, and essential fatty acids.

Treatment for complications after microneedling

  • Keep copies of records and take before and after photos
  • Where a risk of infection may be present, ask for a bacterial culture or swab to be done on your skin
  • A small biopsy can be carried out for “tissue culture” to look for deeper or unusual bacteria or other organisms
  • If there is any question of skin allergy, especially if a lot of chemicals were microneedled into the skin, an allergist may be able to help
  • If you’re concerned about an infectious disease, or difficult or unusual infections in the skin, consult a doctor
  • If you have any hormonal or other issues affecting your healing, an endocrinologist may help

The Naked Truth

The bottom line. Be careful with how you treat your skin; you have a responsibility to take care of your primary organ that protects you every second of your life.

If all of this does sound alarming, but you still want to treat your skin with microneedling, below is my checklist on things you should consider before undergoing microneedling:

  • Know your skin type and where on the Fitzgerald scale it fits into
  • Do your research, and ensure your therapist has many years of experience and understands microneedling at a technical level
  • Do consider the type of machine used, there are less complaints from those who have been treated with a derma pen
  • Do listen to your skin! We are all metabolically different. If you feel your skin is compromised, don’t embark on any invasive treatment, not just microneedling
  • Ensure you get a thorough consultation, and that they discuss the post-treatment protocol with you.
  • Do make sure you take close-up photos of your skin beforehand; if the therapist involved decides to try and deny responsibility, you will have proof
  • Do be consistent with treatments and use quality serums and vitamins, both internally and externally, to repair and protect your skin – but nothing too active
  • Don’t use a combination of treatments coupled with an energy-based device, as there is also the risk of burns to consider
  • Your therapist must be really well trained on their device so they really understand how they behave. I’ve seen patients over the years who’ve sustained iatrogenic injuries which have resulted in scarring after devices have been dragged across the skin



76 thoughts on “Microneedling: Beware, It Can Seriously Mess With Your Skin

  1. Jean says:

    I was desperately looking online for an explanation for what has happened to my skin and now I understand. The reason I am reaching out to you because I am incredibly desperate. A year ago after a sudden horrible Acne breakout I consulted a beautician who had previously successfully performed microneedling on me. Only this time, and I don’t even dare to write it, she told me to come by weekly. I was hesitant at first because I felt like after 1 week the skin had not healed properly and therefore tried to cancel the appointment. She however insisted that it was right and told me to trust her. I did so, going against my gut, something I highly regret today: trusting this person who claimed to know what she was doing. After several consultations I told her about the severe dryness and sensitivity of my face which only allowed a certain hydrosol and Urea, and the scars created.
    Right now I am left with enlarged pores, deep acne scars and wrinkles around my cheeks and feel that I look like a 60 year old and not like my actual biological age, my early twenties. Do you by any chance know what to do? Is the damage irreparable? Could you by any chance help please ?

    • Verified Author Samantha Miller replied:

      Hi Jean I can not consult obviously as you are not local to NZ, I recommend finding a mature, experienced aesthetician in your area who will work with your skin to help return it back to it’s original health, it is possible but needs a long term approach and commitment from you, both topically and internally. Samantha

  2. Effie says:

    In addition to my previous comment, I was wondering if you believe that complications and damage arising from microneedling are due to improperly performed procedures, or at home attempts, or if microneedling, even when done properly and with the correct aftercare, still leads to damage of one’s collagen structure and creates scarring. Thank you

  3. Effie says:

    “Cindy dermarolling causes damage to the extracellular matrix in the form of scarring. A lot depends on the length of the needle used but essentially scarring occurs because dermarolling is destroys the scaffolding in which collagen adheres, which means that even if collagen is being made, it will not be able to maintain its place in the extracellular matrix, and instead of being held in the skin, will be metabolised and destroyed by the body. So the more you dermaroll, the more scar tissue you will make, and then the more scar tissue present in your skin means less space for collagen, elastin and other proteins that healthy skin needs to adhere to – the result, is sadly premature skin sagging and wrinkling.”

    Could you please site the source that you derived this information regarding collagen not being able to maintain its place in the extracellular matrix due to scarring? All peer reviewed articles I have read regarding this go into quite some depth explaining how micro-needling does not cause scarring. For example, from The Journal of Clinical and Aesthetic Dermatology:
    ” One may assume that skin microneedling that involves the use of dozens or as many as 200 needles that limit penetration to 1.5 mm over 1 cm2 of skin would cause trauma and bleeding followed by the classical HIPR. However, this is not the case or at least the HIPR phases are significantly curtailed and healing never ends in a scar formation.”

    -Published online 2018 Aug 1.
    Non-insulated Fractional Microneedle Radiofrequency Treatment with Smooth Motor Insertion for Reduction of Depressed Acne Scars, Pore Size, and Skin Texture Improvement
    A Preliminary Study
    Anwar Elawar, MD and Serge Dahan, MDcorresponding author

    Are you just referring to at home dermarolling? Any insight to your sources of this specific statement would be greatly appreciated!

  4. christine owens says:

    Hi. I had 2 micro needling sessions done last year and my face is completely destroyed. I am only 24. My skin was honestly fine, had like 2 small cystic acne scars, but my texture was great. Now my skin is like orange peel looking and just looked almost aged, just looks damaged honestly. I can relate to other peoples stories above. Can you please help me?

  5. Victoria says:

    I’ve been doing micro needling for many times and liked the results. My skin is very resilient so I never had issues. However, the last time I had it (last year) something went wrong. My skin was red and super dry for a week. I literally had to take a painkiller to be able to sleep (on my back of course cause putting my face on the pillow was too painful). Maybe she went it too deep with the needle? Either way, after I peeled, I started to get these small papules on my cheeks, they were constantly flushed, as if I had rosacea and my skin felt rough. I am very sad it happened to me. I read this article and see there are suggestions for heeling? Do you think its reversible?

  6. Erja says:

    Hi, I m contacting you from Finland, because I couldn t find anything negative In internet concerning microneedling. I made terrible mistake by using swiss clinic body head for my face for three times. Last time 2 days ago. Thinking it is same as a head for your face. Now I feel my skin like burning inside, texture is terrible, like old sag. It s not red but if I press it with the finger the skin doesn t come back like normally. Its like swollen that way. What should I do? Could this be inflammation under the skin?

  7. Brashell Collier says:

    Hi, I had microneedling done on my body for stretch marks after having a baby. The treatment itself worked well for the marks as now they are almost not even there, but my skin is still red in the places that were treated. It’s red but when you press on the areas the redness goes away then returns. It’s been almost a year since my last treatment, and it’s on my body, thankfully mainly my left inner thigh so not crazy noticeable. It’s slowly getting better but is there anything you would recommend for me to do to help it heal? Or what is this even called? I also bought an at home Microneedle for my body just the roller kind, and when I use it I notice it leaves scratch like marks but it’s brand new and no bent needles.. is that normal? Thanks for reading and sorry for all the questions!

    • Verified Author Samantha Miller replied:

      Brashell whether it is on the body or face my advice is to steer clear, can you imagine if you had this reaction on your face? Use body oils with rose hip seed oil and healing omegas 3’s then resort to micro needling.

  8. Kai says:

    Hi, I decided to go with microneedling when I wanted to finally treat my acne scars. My derm is strictly medical and I asked her about microneedling and she searched a medical database showing a medical study proving its effectiveness, since she does not provide cosmetic treatments, I went to a top cosmetic derm I heard about in my area and his technician recommended microneedling with prp. I did not have that kind of dough so I settled for 80$ a treatment with the dermapen from a local esthetician a year ago. I had three treatments and my skin improved for a while. Since then…I never had softer skin. It may have been due to the facial I got. I still have soft skin from it. Then I sillyly used benzoyl peroxide as an acne fighting cream while taking swimming classes (chlorine) last winter. Big mistake as my skin was dry and looked older and people were telling me I look tired. Also i had pushed myself to workout too much and lost weight which showed on my face. My pores looked like they were joining but now looked like they were pulling down. I couldn’t take it so I started microneedling with a .5 dermaroller once a month and the results have been very slow but look better than I did in the winter. It has been about 3 months and I am noticing that even though my indented scars have gotten wider, they look less deep. It feels like I have two layers of skin. As crazy as that sounds, it is an improvement. The indentations look smoother and as if it is trying to grow up to reach the level of my skin while my higher level of skin looks like it is ready to be shedded off. Maybe I am reptile? I think microneedling is for the desperate, people who have pitted acne scars that can only be improved through microneedling and laser therapy. My skin was horrible before my first facial and microneedling. My skin was rough like sandpaper, big pores, acne scars, mild roscea. Now my skin is soft, people are saying I have nice skin for once in my life (I used to have really bad acne) less redness, and lighter texture. I feel that the results are similar to tretinoin (when I use I look more porous and scratchy all over but looks shallower like slight surface scratches. I heard it is due to the initial irritation and it takes 6 months of continued use to see real improvement as like needling, we are causing micro injury to the dermis to stimulate collagen and the irritation shows up on the epidermis and that is why it looks so horrible and skin gets so dry and flaky with retinoids. Luckily, it will eventually heal and the bad will flake away revealing smoother skin but it takes a long time. I just wanted to share my experience and I have the theory that maybe microneedling is not for everyone but for those who have very dilated pores and indentations may benefit from this procedure.

    • Verified Author Samantha Miller replied:

      Hi Kai

      I really appreciate you reaching out and sharing your story.

      I would like to agree with you and say everything has its place and for deep indentations and pitted acne scars and dilated pores it certainly may get result and I am so glad it has for you. However! MY problem with micro needling is that it is often administered wrongly, rarely are correct consultations performed as a result treatments are often administered on people with already very compromised skin, or performed at home by people with no prior training or knowledge. Often the skin is not prepped or treated correctly after treatment, and to many actives are recommended which don’t help to heal the skin, but break down the barrier further. that coupled with the risk of infection means it is a treatment that I can not condone and don’t administer it in my clinic.

      But thank you for sharing your experiences Kai. Samantha

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